Congressional Update

The US House has been without a Speaker for over two weeks and, as a result, half of Congress is closed for business. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has failed to gain the position three times and has now dropped out. The move leaves the party without a nominee or clear path forward after the historic removal of Kevin McCarthy.

Away from Congress, the Federal Reserve announced it would consider a 12-year-old rule regulating debit card swipe fees, specifically noting that it would discuss “proposed revisions to the Board’s debit interchange fee cap.” Proponents of the changes note that where debit cards function like electronic checks, unlike cashing a check, processing each transaction costs merchants a swipe fee. In 2022, debit card swipe fees cost merchants $34.4 billion in revenue – a 5 percent jump – and if credit card fees are included, swipe fees cost merchants $160.7 billion—the highest expense behind labor. Right now, banks with more than $10 billion in assets can charge up to 21 cents per transaction, plus 1 cent for fraud and .5 percent of the transaction. The fed could lower that cap if it has determined that processing charges are declining—which, of course, with technological developments in the last 12 years, they have. Although details of the proposed revisions to the Board’s debit interchange fee cap have not been released, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Fed plans to lower the allowable fee amount in the meeting on Wednesday.

The PPA and our federal partners still continues to urge all jobbers and retailers to reach out to their Senators and ask them to VOTE YES on the Credit Card Competition Act. This bill would reduce credit card swipe fees and allow retailers a choice of network to handle the transaction through competition which would save Americans and businesses around $15 billion in swipe fees per year. Our industry’s share of that comes to around $9,000 per store per year.


Additionally, Arkansas and Oklahoma have joined the oil sector in opposing year-round sales of E15 fuel, which both state’s governors believe will push U.S. refineries beyond their production capacity ultimately leading to higher prices for consumers. While 8 midwestern states are pushing for year-round waivers to sell E10 plus blends, refiners and suppliers are noting the change would significantly diminish their ability to maintain a sufficient supply of fuel to the states they supply since resources would be diverted from standard fuel production to production of E15. The ethanol industry opposes any proposed delay.

Finally, Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Pete Ricketts (R-NE) introduced the “Choice in Automobile Retail Sales (CARS) Act,” which would prevent efforts by the Biden Administration to impose a de facto electric vehicle mandate and would ensure Americans have access to choose the vehicles that meet their needs. Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI) first introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 6, 2023. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce advanced the bill to the full House on September 1, 2023.